A new report from The Intercept indicates that a new in-residence messaging application for Amazon staff members could ban a very long string of phrases, including “ethics.” Most of the phrases on the listing are types that a disgruntled staff would use — phrases like “union” and “compensation” and “pay increase.” According to a leaked document reviewed by The Intercept, a single feature of the messaging application (still in advancement) would be “An automatic phrase monitor would also block a assortment of terms that could represent opportunity critiques of Amazon’s functioning disorders.” Amazon, of program, is not precisely a supporter of unions, and has invested (once again, for each the Intercept) a ton of funds on “anti-union consultants.”
So, what to say about this naughty listing?
On just one hand, it’s simple to see why a organization would want not to offer staff with a instrument that would help them do a little something not in the company’s fascination. I mean, if you want to manage — or even merely complain — making use of your Gmail account or Signal or Telegram, that’s just one factor. But if you want to reach that aim by using an application that the business provides for inner business enterprise purposes, the company possibly has a teensy little bit of a authentic grievance.
On the other hand, this is plainly a lousy search for Amazon — it is unseemly, if not unethical, to be basically banning personnel from working with terms that (it’s possible?) show they are performing a thing the organization does not like, or that it’s possible just point out that the company’s work specifications aren’t up to snuff.
But seriously, what strikes me most about this system is how ham-fisted it is. I imply, keywords? Severely? Don’t we now know — and if we all know, then certainly Amazon is aware of — that social media platforms make achievable a great deal, considerably extra innovative methods of influencing people’s conduct? We have now noticed the use of Facebook to manipulate elections, and even our emotions. In contrast to that, this intended record of naughty words and phrases would seem like Dr Evil striving to outfit sharks with laser-beams. What unions must truly be anxious about is employer-presented platforms that really don’t explicitly ban phrases, but that subtly shape user working experience dependent on their use of those text. If Cambridge Analytica could plausibly try to impact a countrywide election that way, couldn’t an employer really believably aim at shaping a unionization vote in very similar fasion?
As for banning the word “ethics,” I can only shake my head. The ability to converse brazenly about ethics — about values, about ideas, about what your business stands for, is regarded by most scholars and consultants in the realm of small business ethics as very fundamental. If you can not communicate about it, how most likely are you to be to be in a position to do it?
(Thanks to MB for pointing me to this story.)